Greater Collaboration Urged To Wipe Out Rabies

(26.09.2014) Geneva, Switzerland 26 September 2014: An urgent call for more action to wipe out rabies has been issued to mark World Rabies Day on September 28th.

The World Medical Association, the World Veterinary Association and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control have urged all countries to implement an effective disease surveillance system to help stop the deadly disease. Rabies causes some 70,000 deaths each year, almost all of them in Africa and Asia and most of them young children.

The three organisations have also pressed for closer collaboration between the medical and veterinary professions to spearhead rabies prevention efforts.

Today's joint statement makes it clear that eliminating rabies in dogs, the source of the disease in 96 per cent of human cases, is possible.

Dr. Margaret Mungherera, President of the World Medical Association, said: “The transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans, zoonosis, is something the world must take more seriously.
Ebola, rabies and influenza are just three examples of epidemic diseases which originate in animals. But rabies is a disease where improved communication and collaboration between the medical and veterinary professions in their working practices can lead to prevention.”

Dr. Faouzi Kechrid, President of the World Veterinary Association, said: “Rabies has aroused fear for 4000 years, but many examples, including recent improvements in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, prove that where there is good inter-professional collaboration sustainable rabies elimination is possible.”

Professor Louis Nel, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, added: “Global canine rabies elimination is possible. GARC strives to embody the One Health Approach to alleviate human suffering, improve animal welfare and reduce the financial burden of post-exposure treatments - an economic cost overwhelmingly paid by the already impoverished communities most at risk.”

He said the three organizations wanted to encourage all countries to implement an effective disease surveillance system to help stop the disease and prevent future outbreaks, and to implement laws for the prevention and control of rabies. Success in preventing, controlling and raising awareness about rabies depended on good collaboration between different professions and disciplines, in the public as well as in the private sector, particularly between the fields of human and animal health.

The joint statement from the three organisations comes on the 8th annual World Rabies Day. This year's World Rabies Day theme is #TogetherAgainstRabies, with a focus on the mutual benefits to people and animals of eliminating the disease in dogs, the source of the disease in 96% of human cases.